It’s the time of the year where, as a Sales speaker and Consultant, I reflect on the people and companies I have worked with in the last twelve months and ask myself, Did I make a Difference? Rather than sending out my usual New Year announcements about Sales Kickoff meetings and consulting availability, I wanted to share an experience I had this past year with one manufacturer that stands out for their willingness to change and their achievement of organization, increasing sales, specifically more profitable revenue.
This manufacturing company, let’s call them Manny Inc. has been in business for over 50 years and hired me last year to speak at their sales kickoff meeting. Prior to the meeting, I asked the owner, “What would they like to achieve in the upcoming year”? He told me sales had been flat for the past several years and with a downturn in the economy he feared reduced sales in the future.
He shared with me that what he really wanted was to move his company forward from Point A to Point B. After a few more questions and observations, I spoke at their meeting on “Selling in the Now”. I talked about how times have changed and how customers get and process information has changed, yet many sales organizations still sell the same way they did in the past. It just doesn’t work anymore. Sure, their product was sound and their ability to scale manufacturing was available, however, each day their sales force continued to skate where the puck was, only to find when they got there it had moved on.
After the kickoff meeting I was invited back to see if I could make a difference. Now, one year later, profitable sales are up and Manny Inc. is well positioned to have another phenomenal year.
It began with organizing sales efforts. A newer more simplified CRM was implemented. One that helps sales people sell and not act as an electronic baby sitter service. Then, we did a deep dive into the customer base to find the attributes of their best customers. Existing customers are often overlooked for examples of “best fit” for new customers and lead generation.
Vince Lombardi said that his only competition was time, and that is so is true of selling. We organized sales efforts and how time is spent and with whom. All customers need to be touched, however, how we touch them can maximize our Return on Effort (ROE). Which customers would benefit from a face-to-face interaction and which ones are better served with an email or a telephone call and which ones are covered nicely with well-constructed digital marketing campaigns.
We worked on the sales call approach. How we interacted with a customer needed attention. As manufacturer that sold through distributors, Manny, Inc. was prone to using the “Needamore” selling technique. That is where you just show up and ask. “Need any more Product”? That is not selling; that is just very expensive order taking.
We worked long and hard on becoming valuable resources to people and achieving that trusted advisor status. The internet has locked many doors for sales people as customers feel they can get all the information they need there. With proper planning and Selling in the Now techniques we found the right doors and got them unlocked.
Views and actions regarding objections and competition were modified to explain, “Best Fit” vs. Competitive Knock-offs. The whole management philosophy was re-positioned from catching people doing something wrong to catching them doing something right.
Internally, we put a great deal of effort into sharing each sales rep’s strengths and abilities. It is so amazing how the talent within an organization can, with very little effort, can be joined to build a true winning team. With a new selling strategy in place, we looked at the existing compensation plan. We found in many cases we were not only blazing a path in the wrong direction but we were compensating handsomely to do so. Congruency in mission, vision and implementation is key to getting the results you seek and the attrition you don’t.
As I look past 2016, I consider myself fortunate to have worked with Manny Inc. Both of our lives are richer for the experience. Sales people do not generate revenue. They uncover needs that turn into sales that generate revenue. Once a sales rep understands that their job is to ‘Move the Needle’ then their methodical journey begins towards success. The role of a sales rep is an important one. A company’s success or failure rides on the balance and all company employees are counting on sales getting it right.
I am eagerly looking forward to 2017 and beyond to help organizations with my passion, “Getting it Right”.
What are you looking forward to? Where do you want to be this time next year?
Why not give me a call to see if I can help you get where you need to go. After a quick conversation, I can help identify your issues and determine if I am the one to help you. Call me at 484.831.5485 or send an email to [email protected].
Author: Rich Lucia